50 years later, Scottdale native marries college sweetheart
By Paul Paterra
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Barbara Bryan and David Thatcher were married Feb. 14, 2013, reigniting a romance that began 53 years earlier.
Bryan, a 1952 graduate of Scottdale High School, and Thatcher dated seriously in 1959 and 1960 when they were students at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass. However, they parted when Thatcher told Bryan of his call to missions work and she feared she may hinder him from that calling.
In the ensuing years, Thatcher married, but health issues prevented him from his calling.
Bryan, who said she was raised in Scottdale, had never married, but kept in close contact with Thatcher's sister, Dottie. Thatcher's wife of 50 years, Mona, died in 2011. He had lost contact with Bryan, whom he had never forgotten.
“I didn't know where Barbara was,” Thatcher said. “I remembered her. I didn't forget her.”
In a 2012 conversation with Dottie, Bryan learned Mona had died and asked for Thatcher's phone number to extend her condolences.
“I never talked to him the whole time he was married,” she said. “I didn't think that was right.”
When she did call Thatcher, who was living with his daughter Tammy in Hagerstown, Md., at the time, he was pleasantly surprised.
“When she called me on the phone, (I thought) ‘Wow,'” Thatcher said of the July 2012 phone call.
“His daughter said he just brightened up,” Bryan said of the phone call. “She said, ‘You just made his day.'”
Acquaintances were renewed and the couple, each of whom is 79 years old, knew they had to see each other again.
Thatcher could not get to Florida until December, although it took him just a couple days to secure a plane ticket. The pair did remain in constant contact.
“I called her every day from the time she called me until the time I went down to see her,” he said.
Bryan said when she saw Thatcher at the airport, she “just knew it was him.”
Once in Florida, Thatcher proposed marriage.
“I was wondering why it took him two days,” Bryan said of Thatcher's proposal. “I was wondering why he's not kissing me.”
Two months later, they were married on Valentine's Day.
Bryan wanted a small ceremony of about 20 people, but the church wedding ended up with 60 people in attendance.
“She's got too many friends to have a small wedding,” Thatcher said
“Some people are still mad that they didn't get invited,” Bryan added.
One of her guests really enjoyed the wedding, saying it was the nicest wedding she ever attended and she had been married three times.
Bryan said Thatcher's five kids (three daughters and two sons) have welcomed her with open arms.
“They're just so sweet,” she said. “They said ‘Thank you for making daddy so happy.'”
The pair resides in St. Petersburg, Fla. and will celebrate their first anniversary Friday.
“I said ‘You were worth the wait,'” Bryan said.
Now that they are closing in on one year of matrimony, they continue to feel like a honeymooning couple.
“It's been great,” Bryan said. “We haven't even had our first fight yet.”
“We're too old to fight,” Thatcher added.
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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